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Wednesday, August 08, 2007


Jeffrey Nye

Do you really consider the all-time home run record "the most hallowed record in all of sports"? I personally don't consider it the most hallowed baseball record, let alone the most hallowed overall. The overall title has to go to Joe D's 56 games, hands down. Other baseball records which are at least in the running with 756 home runs are 5714 strikeouts (Nolan Ryan, of course), 1406 stolen bases (Rickey Henderson), 4256 hits (Pete Rose), and 2632 consecutive games (Cal Ripken, Jr.). You can make an argument for Cy Young's 511 wins and 749 complete games (and yes, I had to look that last one up). Rickey's stolen base record is unique among the other records in that nobody else is even close -- if he had stolen one more base, he would have had exactly 50% more than the number two guy on the list (Lou Brock, 938).

Other sports have a number of records which are at least on par with 756. The 1972 Dolphins' perfect season (17-0), the Chicago Bulls' 72-win season (1995 or 96, I think), Lance Armstrong's seven consecutive Tour de France titles, Peyton Manning's 49 touchdown passes, Emmitt Smith's 18,355 rushing yards, Jerry Rice's 22,895 receiving yards . . . . And we should at least mention that a Japanese player (Sadaharu Oh) has (I think) 858 career homers overseas.

In any case, my bet is that Rodriguez will break the record. In the last ten seasons he's only hit less than 40 twice. If he averages that number for the next five years, he can coast through half a dozen seasons as a DH, banging out 25 per for awhile. If he stays healthy he could put 800 pretty far behind him.

OK, enough baseball. I do enjoy the blog. I hope to get into a Sixth Circuit practice at some point. Starting small for now. Just finished law school and clerking in Common Pleas.

Eric Zagrans

Hey, Jeff. Thanks for the comments and the kind words. I do indeed consider the home run record to be pre-eminent and "hallowed" among American sports records because of (i) the drama and excitement of the home run as well as its appeal in baseball legend and lore, (ii) the role and mythic status of baseball in American culture and society, and (iii) the fact that baseball is more focused (indeed, fixated) on statistical achievements and records than any other sport. The number has meaning -- even casual fans over the decades know what 714 or 755 means. Who among us can say off the tops of our heads how many career strikeouts Nolan Ryan had or how many bases Rickey Henderson stole? To be fair, the numbers 56 and 2632 (and before that, 2130) have definite meaning to most ardent baseball fans, and I think those two records come closest to challenging the home run mark for ascendancy as the "most hallowed" of records. Indeed, they may both prove to be harder to break than the home run record. But that's not the criterion I was using. I hope you keep reading and commenting.

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